Planning underway for new swimming pool in Canora

If there are no unforeseen obstacles along the way, Canora and area residents can expect to have a new swimming pool by the summer of 2022, which is 50 years after the opening of the existing Canora swimming pool in June 1972.

During its regular meeting on September 15, town council agreed to “move forward with planning and construction of a new swimming pool facility.”

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Aaron Herriges, director of leisure services, said he has been thinking about the need to replace the pool since he first took on the position almost five years ago.

“In January 2016, Councillor Gabora was showing me around town to get me familiar with Canora’s facilities and our first stop was the Canora swimming pool,” said Herriges. “Our immediate reaction was that this facility was very well used and its age was showing. So from the onset there were some concerns and we felt a long term plan was needed to ensure our citizens can continue to have this wonderful service for now and the distant future.”

Herriges said the importance of the swimming pool to the community was apparent right from the first year he saw it in operation.

“It’s a relaxing spot for citizens to spend the day while staying active and improving their swimming skills by taking lessons,” he said. “It was easy to see it was essential to keep this service operational. But there are many challenges that come along with a high-humidity, seasonal facility with many years of repairs, retrofits, and deterioration. The winter can take a toll on an asset like this over time.”

The pool included two basins, change rooms and the mechanical room when it opened for business in 1972. 

“The main pool basin was replaced in the mid-80s,” said Herriges. “Today the original change room and paddling pool are still in use, making them almost 50 years old, a pretty good life span, if you ask me. Eventually there comes a time when decisions need be made for the present and future. With any pool this age, there are challenges in keeping it up to code, accessible, and safe for the public and employees. Structural and mechanical problems start becoming routine and keep operational costs on the rise. Then, feasibility comes into discussion as repairs start to project past the cost of replacement.”

Herriges said gaining the experience from the operation of the swimming pool over the last several years has been invaluable in formulating a strategy for the future.

“It gave us the time to fully understand what is needed and what works well so we can use that information in planning a replacement facility. So during that time you just store that information so that it can be used for whenever the time comes, and it appears that time has come.”

Herriges said after the new swimming pool resolution was passed during the September 15 council meeting, his first reaction was “pure happiness for members of the community because they were going to get something they will appreciate tremendously.”

His next thought was that there is a lot of work ahead in preparation for this project. 

“One of the challenges a project like this presents is, how do we fund a project this size?” queried Herriges. “This is a dilemma that most communities face and ours is no different. For this project to be possible, a lot of appreciation can be directed to the person who handles the town’s finances, our administrator Michael Mykytyshyn. I believe the town’s financial discipline has put us in the position where we are able to pull the trigger on a project this size. Canora is lucky to have someone with his experience and knowledge. In the end, the decision for this project depended on a town council vote and I really have to hand it our mayor and councillors for showing the initiative in getting this started. It’s a tremendous moment for Canora.”

"The project is in the pre-planning phase, which involves gathering information and identifying concepts, systems, and possible locations. We hosted a very good concept presentation and have a good feeling about which direction to take. The details of a plan will come later throughout the winter. One thing I can say right now is we are going to be very open-minded and throw around a lot of ideas. In the end, the project will have to meet a set budget while staying within our means, and at the same time keeping the future in mind with our design.” Herriges said. 

As the swimming pool project progresses, there will be opportunities for local business, contractors, and rural municipalities to get involved in a variety of different ways.

“We’ll definitely be accepting monetary or in-kind donations, sponsorship, and fundraisers to help relieve some of the financial commitment.”

Herriges said the plan is for construction to begin in the fall of 2021 and be completed in time for the summer of 2022.